July 4–August 17, 2019



CRITICAL DISTANCE and INDEPENDENT CURATORS INTERNATIONAL (ICI) are pleased to present Publishing Against the Grain, a unique exhibition that provides visitors with a rare opportunity to engage in a variety of conversations from across the world. In the context of today’s corporatization and commodification of cultural institutions, and in many political situations where free speech becomes ever more precarious, independent publishing has shown extraordinary vitality and importance as a platform for disseminating alternative, progressive and autonomous positions.

Publishing Against the Grain is a traveling exhibition that highlights the current state of publishing and art criticism as it exists in small journals, experimental publications, websites, and podcasts, as well as other innovative forms. It is organized around projects that connect theoretical, social, political, and aesthetic questions with a focus on community, whether understood in relation to a particular place, or defined in identitarian or diasporic terms. In bringing these projects together from around the world, Publishing Against the Grain reveals how their material and discursive activities respond to intersecting subjects such as contemporary aesthetics, diaspora, sex and gender, gentrification, race, language, and art history.

Alongside the international network of publications sourced by ICI, Critical Distance will present a “capsule” exhibition of arts publishing projects currently being produced across Canada today. Aligning with the values, modes, and methods of production embodied by ICI’s global grouping, our selection will be similarly focused on grassroots/independent projects that demonstrate critical, socio-political and aesthetic engagements with topical issues and ideas, in thoughtful relation to their respective artistic communities as well as broader regional, national, and international publics.

This capsule includes:


Scapegoat Journal
Journal. Based in Toronto; active since 2010

SCAPEGOAT: Architecture | Landscape | Political Economy is an independent, not-for-profit, bi-annual journal designed to create a context for research and development regarding design practice, historical investigation, and theoretical inquiry. 

Lola Magazine
Small magazine (out of print). Based in Toronto; active 1997–2003

Lola was a Toronto visual arts publication that ran for seven years from 1997–2003. It was launched by artist/writer Sally McKay, curator John Massier and arts writer and editor Catherine Osborne. Their aim was to reinvigorate the city’s visual arts scene by creating an open forum for writers, artists and the general public to comment and critique exhibitions and art events within the city.

The HIV Howler: Transmitting Art and Activism 
Newspaper. Based in Toronto; active since 2018 

The HIV Howler: Transmitting Art and Activism is a limited edition art newspaper focusing on global grassroots HIV art and cultural production. Artists, writers and activists play a fundamental role in shaping broader societal understandings of HIV and working from within communities that are most impacted by the virus. Together we reflect the immediacy and urgency of global HIV/AIDS dialogues as well as their historical continuities.


Zine. Based in Vancouver/Toronto; active since 2016

CHARCUTERIE strives to provide a forum for experimental writing and informed polemics without pedantry. It assembles a polyphony of inquiry and documents the messy landscape of opinion and critique that unravels in close proximity to where we work, live and make art. CHARCUTERIE is co-founded by Steffanie Ling and Bopha Chhay, and edited by Steffanie Ling, Bopha Chhay, and Eli Zibin.

Redwire Magazine
Magazine (out of print); selected issues available in PDF. Based in Vancouver; active across Turtle Island from 1997–2009

Redwire was created in 1997 by sisters Nena and Billie Pierre with the support of the Environmental Youth Alliance and the Native Youth Movement. The first-ever Native youth run magazine in Canada, Redwire documented a talking circle between Native youth artists, writers, activists and readers across Turtle Island discussing the issues important to our communities.

Chapbook series in PDF and print. Based in Toronto; active since 2016

EMILIA-AMALIA is an exploratory working group that employs practices of citation, annotation and autobiography as modes of activating feminist art, writing and research practices. The group investigates historical and intergenerational feminisms, as well as relationships of mentorship, collaboration and indebtedness between artists, writers, thinkers, curators and practitioners.

We are all experts.
No one is an expert.
Expertise is not expected.

Peripheral Review 
Web-based platform with two anthologies in print. Based in Toronto/Vancouver; active since 2016

Founded in Vancouver, Peripheral Review is a platform for documenting and expanding the emerging and under-represented Canadian art scene, as well as enabling access for emerging writers by encouraging expanded and accessible critical dialogue. Peripheral Review was co-founded by Lauren Lavery and Adriana Lademann in 2016.

Web/Digital only

Public Parking
Web-based journal. Based in Winnipeg; active since 2016
Link to website:

Public Parking is an online journal for documenting diverging views across the creative community. We are interested in showcasing working practices of emerging creators/thinkers while discounting the antiquated divisions between film, fine arts, design, crafts, music, and the like. We are here with the support of our contributors to open up an environment that allows for further discourse and outreach of work by creative thinkers. Public Parking was initiated in 2016 by Winnipeg- based photographer and writer Luther Konadu.

MICE Magazine
Link to website:

Web-based magazine. Based in Toronto; active since 2016 
MICE is an online periodical devoted to critical writing and artist’s projects about and within moving image culture. It is published twice annually in Toronto, but its focus is international.

Current members: Aaditya Aggarwal, Marina Fathalla, Caroline Ivy, Marsya Maharani, Safia Siad. Founding and past members: Gina Badger, Christina Battle, Scott Miller Berry, Jaclyn Bruneau, Jesse Cumming, Ben Donoghue, Amy Fung, Esmé Hogeveen, Onyeka Igwe, Yaniya Lee, Esery Mondesir, and cheyanne turions.

This selection is not intended to be comprehensive or conclusive at this stage of our organizational research, but just the first of an ongoing series of explorations and resulting exhibitions that will seek to evince the incredible diversity and criticality that Indigenous and Canadian arts publishers have brought, and continue to bring to bear, upon global discourses in publishing and its potentials. Visitors to the exhibition will be invited to fully engage with all of the publications on display, with the opportunity to make a case for any of the capsule selections to be nominated for inclusion in ICI’s exhibition for future stops on its international tour.

Finally, Critical Distance is thrilled to announce the first additions to its nascent Curators Library+Archive, including the complete back catalogue of Lola Magazine, which was produced by artist/writer Sally McKay, curator John Massier and arts writer and editor Catherine Osborne from 1997–2003.

Stay tuned for more information on library- and exhibition-related events coming soon!

Publishing Against the Grain is initiated by Alaina Claire Feldman, Becky Nahom, and Sanna Almajedi with contributions from: Adjective / AEQAI / Art Hopper / Art Against Art / Post Capitalism: A Guide to our Future, Telematic Embrace, The Transhumanist Reader / Bisagra / ramona / Chimurenga & Selections from the Chimurenga Library / Curatorial Dictionary / / East of Borneo / Artes Visuales / Exhausted Geographies / SCROLL / Fillip / Art-Language / Glänta / Bidayat / Makhzin / Souffles, Soufless-Anfas / New Culture / Top Stories / Our Literal Speed / Collective Actions / Pages / Pumflet / Corrections and Clarifications / Counter-Signals / PISEAGRAMA / Urbânia / Raking Leaves / Aar Paar / SALT. / LIES / Start Journal / Uganda Press Photo Award / Stationary / Blackbird / Lenny Kwok / Tráfico Visual / Félix Suaz / White Fungus / Life Is A Rip Off / X-TRA

Associated Events

Opening reception and exhibition walkthrough with CDCC Director Shani K Parsons
Saturday, July 6th from 11am–1 pm
Join us in the gallery for coffee, donuts, and mimosas! Plus a curatorial/conversational walkthrough of the exhibition with CDCC Founding Director Shani K Parsons and critics/publishers/artists in attendance. All are welcome.

Who Are We Writing For? Workshop with Amy Fung for BIPOC Writers
Sunday, July 7th, 2019, 5pm

Geared for racialized arts writers and those thinking and writing about their place in the world. Workshop is PWYC and limited to 12 participants. Please RSVP to to complete your registration. PDFs for discussion will be sent out to registered participants one week prior to the workshop.

Pressing the Issue Pt.1: On Critical Arts Publishing in Canada
Monday, July 8th, 2019, 7pm

Moderated by Maxine Proctor and featuring EMILIA-AMALIA, Merray Gerges (CRIT paper), Steffanie Ling (Charcuterie, Bartleby Review, STILLS), Vanessa Runions (Carbon Paper), and Ben Donoghue (MICE Magazine).

2nd Session! Who Are We Writing For? Workshop with Amy Fung for BIPOC Writers
Wednesday, July 10th, 2019, 5:30pm

Happy Hour with Lola: Intergenerational Reading Group
Friday, July 12th, 2019, 5:30

Join us for a free dive into Lola’s 16 issues from which we will collectively select and share readings for discussion while drinking, snacking, and even laughing. Lola was a Toronto visual arts publication that ran for seven years between 1997 and 2003. Launched by artist/writer Sally McKay, curator John Massier and arts writer and editor Catherine Osborne, its aim was to reinvigorate the city’s visual arts scene by creating an open forum for anyone to critique art events in the city. McKay and Osborne will be in attendance to provide an overview of Lola’s history and context, and highlight some of their favourite articles. Guests will also be invited to offer up passages of interest for debate and discussion. Within an atmosphere of exploration, mutual encouragement, and critical yet open-minded engagement, we we will attempt the unthinkable — a truly intergenerational unpacking of the issues and ideas that find manifestation in Lola, many of which are still being debated today.

Happy Hour with the HIV Howler
Friday, August 9th, 2019, 5:30pm

Join us for a presentation by Anthea Black and Jessica Whitbread of The HIV Howler: Transmitting Art and Activism in conversation with Danielle St. Amour (SBC Gallery of Contemporary Art). The HIV Howler: Transmitting Art and Activism is a limited edition art newspaper focusing on global grassroots HIV art and cultural production, and a forum for dialogue, a demand for aesthetic self-determination, a response to tokenism, and a guide to navigating the vibrational ambiguities between policy, pathology, and community.

Pressing the Issue Pt.2: Critical Arts Publishing in Canada, Cont.
Friday, August 9th, 2019, 7pm

Featuring Anthea Black and Jessica Lynn Whitbread from The HIV Howler, Adrienne Crossman from Off Centre, Lauren Lavery from Peripheral Review, imagineNATIVE Film+Media Arts Festival, and others to be confirmed soon.

Location and accessibility information

Critical Distance Centre for Curators
Suite 302 on the 3rd floor at Artscape Youngplace
180 Shaw Street (btw Dundas and Queen Street in Toronto’s Queen West neighbourhood)
Toronto, Ontario M6J 2W5 Canada
Google Map

Artscape Youngplace and Critical Distance are fully accessible by Ontario standards, with a wheelchair ramp at the 180 Shaw Street doors, an elevator servicing every floor, and a fully accessible washroom on every level. The nearby 63 Ossington bus on the TTC is wheelchair accessible. All stairwell installations will be viewable from accessible locations.

About the presenting partners

Independent Curators International (ICI) produces exhibitions, events, training opportunities, research initiatives, and publications for curators and audiences around the world. Established in 1975, ICI is headquartered in New York, but active around the world. ICI’s programs are presented and often developed in partnership with art spaces across the globe, therefore encouraging new infrastructures for art practice internationally, and inspiring fresh ways of seeing and contextualizing contemporary art.


Critical Distance is a not-for-profit project space, publisher, and professional network devoted to the support and advancement of curatorial practice and inquiry in Toronto, Canada, and beyond. With a focus on critically engaged, collaborative, and cross-disciplinary practices, underrepresented artists and art forms, and community outreach and education in art and exhibition-making, Critical Distance is an open platform for diverse curatorial perspectives, and a forum for the exchange of ideas on curating and exhibition-making as ways to engage and inform audiences from all walks of life.


Publishing Against the Grain is an exhibition organized and produced by Independent Curators International (ICI), New York, and initiated by ICI’s Alaina Claire Feldman and Becky Nahom with Sanna Almajedi. The exhibition was made possible with generous support from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, ICI’s Board of Trustees and International Forum.

… Please join us for a public opening reception with the artist on Saturday, May 7th, from 6–9 pm Refreshments will be served and all are welcome. TYPOLOGY No. 302, Artscape Youngplace, 180 Shaw Street, Toronto, ON M6J 2W5 See Google map of location … About the Artist Susana Reisman was born in Caracas, Venezuela in 1977. She received a BA in Economics from Wellesley College, Boston (1999) and an MFA in photography from the Rochester Institute of Technology (2005). After teaching photography for a number of years, Reisman now dedicates her time to making art and running Circuit Gallery. She lives and works in Toronto. Recent solo and group exhibitions include Productive Displacement, a series of billboards curated by Bonnie Rubenstein for the 2015 CONTACT Photography Festival; Standardizing Nature: Trees, Wood, Lumber (2014) at Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography, Toronto; Unsettled Primaries (2014), curated by Mariangeles Soto-Diaz for the Torrance Art Museum, California; Immoderation (2014), curated by Megan Press for the Living Arts Centre, Mississauga; Micah Lexier: More Than Two (2013), curated by Micah Lexier for The Power Plant, Toronto; Flash Forward Festival 2013, outdoor exhibition at Fairmont Battery Wharf, Boston; Objects in Mirrors May Appear Closer (2013), UNO St. Claude Gallery, New Orleans; and Like-Minded (2012), curated by Micah Lexier for the Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art, Winnipeg, Manitoba. … The artist wishes to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council for this exhibition.
Critical Distance is grateful to the Ontario Arts Council for funding support to make this exhibition and related events possible.

image: Where and When to Believe, Taslima Ahmed and Manuel Gnam, 2015. Image courtesy of Taslima Ahmed and Manuel Gnam and ICI.